Search Results for: Psychopath

A Psychopath’s Responsibility

I’ve been asked repeatedly my thoughts on the girl who cajoled her boyfriend into killing himself, and I’ve been hesitant to really say much on the subject, but I’ve given the matter enough thought now. So strap in–we’re going to cover many different angles very quickly.

Prison?

Whether the girl is guilty of murder or not, prison is not the answer, because two wrongs don’t make a right. Whatever the girl may or may not be guilty of, prison is not the answer. So it goes without saying that, whatever my thoughts on what the girl did, I am not saying that she should be kidnapped and imprisoned against her will by the state.

With That Said…

I’m frankly stunned by the number of libertarians I’m seeing who express the sentiment that the girl bears absolutely no responsibility for the guy’s death, and, without being overly generalizing, I suspect that most of these people have never witnessed nor experienced psychological abuse. It should go without saying, though, that psychological abuse… is abuse. Not only is psychological abuse abuse, but it’s a critical tool in the psychopath’s toolbox, if not the most important tool at their disposal. It is, after all, psychological abuse that prevents men and women in violent relationships from leaving. It is what causes one to continually go back to the abuser, no matter how flagrant the abuses are. I’ve written about this before, having gone through it with a psychopath, and won’t spend a lot of time on it here.

I’ll say, however, that only someone who is ignorant of the damage that a psychopath can do to a person’s mind could allow someone to absolve psychopaths of the consequences of their psychological abuse. It is psychological abuse that causes teens to kill themselves. It is psychological abuse that causes transgender and gay teens to kill themselves. Psychological abuse, while not as obviously a violation of the NAP as punching someone yourself, clearly is a form of violence. I would argue that it’s a more horrific form of violence than physical abuse, because it is the psychological abuse that causes victims of violence to return to their abuser, and that causes kids in abusive homes to believe they are wicked and filled with demons, even if they have done nothing wrong, which may manifest in the person’s mind for decades to come, longer after the scars of any physical violence have healed.

It was long-term psychological abuse that caused me to be in the third grade and begging a devout Christian friend to stand before me and say, “Get thee behind me, Satan” to exorcise the demons from me–demons that I firmly believed possessed me because of the desires and needs that I had to repress. It was that same psychological abuse that caused me to be in my late 20s before I was able to come to terms with something that had been true at least since I was three years old and hiding my underwear so that I had an excuse to wear my sister’s. More than two decades of self-loathing, doubt, confusion, strife, and suicide attempts followed before I was able to come to terms with everything, and the psychological, religiously-motivated abuse is the reason why–a fact to which the scars on my wrists will testify.

I was in the fifth grade, I think, the first time I attempted to hang myself. Young and inexperienced, I used a braided leather belt. It snapped. For the next several years, I cut myself regularly. They were not suicide attempts by any means, but neither were they cries for attention; I did everything that I could to hide them. I wouldn’t be able to explain why I did it, but I did. My body is marked with scars from razor blades. My wrists, my upper arms, my chest, my legs… And, of course, there were the sincere attempts, the hospitalization in a behavioral ward, and all that fun stuff.

Testaments to the tremendous damage that extended psychological abuse can cause.

If you don’t think that the girl who texted her boyfriend and stayed on the phone with him as he cried out and choked to death bears any responsibility for that, then you don’t have any ground to stand on to lament what my father and grandmother did to me, because they are two manifestations of the same thing: psychological abuse.

The Psychopath’s Toolkit

The psychopath is an expert at manipulation. David Karesh, the Church of Scientology, and countless other cults around the world are experts at manipulation, but there are also those whose ambitions are smaller, and bloodlust more controlled. They seek out damaged people and then destroy them. They know exactly how to worm their way into your mind, and how to bend you to their will.

If you think you’re immune to it, you’re not.

The only thing a person can do to arm themselves against it is to gain knowledge in the psychopath’s tactics, to learn the manipulation techniques, to stay alert of them. However, in learning those techniques, a person will find out exactly how much damage a psychopath can do to a person’s mind, and I find it hard to believe, to be completely honest, that anyone aware of the manner in which a psychopath can manipulate a person’s mind and destroy their agency would go on to deny that the psychopath has responsibility for what this destroyed person does.

Where shall we draw the line?

Is it morally wrong to type out “kys” in World of Warcraft’s Trade Chat? Should a person be considered guilty of murder if, having typed that out to someone, that person then kills themselves?

Why do we have to draw a line?

“One size fits all” justice is fundamentally flawed, because the circumstances of actions matter, infinitely more than the actions themselves.

If I push someone down, and they break their arm, then I am guilty of assault.

However, if I push someone down and out of the way of an oncoming train, and they break their arm, then I am a hero.

What’s the difference? There isn’t one. In both scenarios, I pushed the person, they fell, and they broke their arm. The only thing that’s different are the circumstances. Since the circumstances are different, the hypothetical result if I had done nothing have changed. If I had done nothing in the first example, the person would have continued on through their day without a broken arm–a superior consequence than what came about when I pushed them. If I did nothing in the second example, though, the person would have died–an inferior consequence than what came about when I pushed them. We are comparing hypotheticals here, and we’re making our assessment of morality based around that. That is always how we assign our moral values.

The alternative, had this girl not taken her actions, are that the guy would still be alive. Because of her actions, he is dead.

I see no way of escaping the conclusion that she is responsible for that. We’re not talking about someone who opted not to run into a burning house to try to rescue someone else. We’re not talking about hateful children who laughed as they watched someone drowned, and who couldn’t have saved the drowning victim anyway*. We’re talking about a girl who explicitly told her psychologically vulnerable and long-term victim of psychological abuse boyfriend to get back in the vehicle and finish dying. I am stunned that so many people are arguing that she did nothing wrong simply because she didn’t physically hold the door shut.

Group Responsibility?

While discussing this with someone on Facebook, someone said that only the individual is responsible for their actions. I pointed out that, by this reasoning, Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust, and Stalin was not responsible for the murder of twenty-five million Christian farmers. To my shock, she said that was correct–the individuals who carried out those orders were responsible.

I don’t deny that the individuals who committed the actions are responsible. I’ve pointed this out in the past. However, the person who gave the command is absolutely as responsible. That’s what it literally means to have authority, to have power over someone, to have the responsibility of making decisions for someone. The psychopath takes this power slowly and with systemic psychological abuse, but they take the power all the same. Even so, the brainwashing tactics of the military are shockingly similar to those used by psychopaths: destroy their individuality and make them dependent on the command structure. That’s at least as much the point of boot camp as is physical training. The stated purpose is to break people down as individuals and build them back up as a part of a machine. This is done through psychological abuse.

No one is saying “Group responsibility.”

I am saying that all individuals who play a role in making sure that an action is undertaken bear responsibility for that action being undertaken. Quite the opposite, I’m the one arguing for individual responsibility. I’m not absolved of responsibility if I order a friend to kill someone and that friend does it. “Woah! I didn’t kill that person!” I could argue, and these NAP-advocates, evidently (the ones with whom I’ve spoken directly) would agree. I didn’t kill that person.

Even though I’m literally the one who caused it to happen…

Yes, the soldier who drops the bomb bears responsibility for that. So does the commander who ordered the bomb to be dropped, though.

“They could just disobey orders” is an inadequate answer. And it’s true that, if everyone refused to obey orders, war would cease to exist. But who is advocating group responsibility now? For the individual, refusing to obey orders results in arrest, kidnapping, and imprisonment. Through coercive means, that individual has most, if not all, responsibility for the action waived, in the same way that we American citizens bear no responsibility for what the state does with our tax money because, through coercive means, we are forced to obey and pay taxes. You can’t have it both ways, where Americans aren’t to blame for how tax dollars are used because we could just choose to not pay taxes, but other individuals are to blame for the results of actions they take under duress.

To say that only the person who personally executes a given action is responsible for that action is short-sighted and extremely narrow. It is tunnel vision on the minutae of the action. There is a lot of cause and effect that goes into every single action that a person takes, and not all of that is the person’s fault–much of it is beyond that person’s control. To suggest that only the person who personally executes the action is responsible is to say that a man who wakes one day to find a gun to his head and someone telling him, “If you don’t find and kill one person right now, I will kill you,” is the only person responsible for the action he commits, and that the person who put the gun to his head and gave him that ultimatum bears no responsibility.

“He still made the choice, though… He could have chosen to just die. He didn’t. He chose to murder someone, so that’s on him!”

It’s such a narrow way of viewing… reality. Cause and effect. Actions and consequences. Responsibility.

Suicide Isn’t a Violation of the NAP

No, it isn’t, and a person of sound mind has every right to take their own life. I’ve argued before, and will again, that suicide is not indicative of mental illness. However, this guy in question was clearly mentally ill. He was clearly unstable and incapable of making the decision to kill himself. If he was capable of making that decision alone, he wouldn’t have gotten out of the vehicle, for fuck’s sake. That he did get out of the vehicle is ipso facto proof that he did not have the agency required to soundly make the decision to kill himself.

I think a lot of the people arguing that the girl didn’t do anything “that wrong” don’t know what the girl did. They seem to think she just sent a few text messages. If only that was the extent of what she did… But it isn’t. He got out of the vehicle and called her, and she told him to get back in and finish killing himself. Then she stayed on the phone with him while he cried out in agony and died, because she wanted to ensure that he did see it through. That’s a FAR cry from typing out “kys” in a chatroom.

Through the verbal persuasion that is the gift of the psychopath, she held him in that vehicle until he died.

You can’t possibly think that a guy who got out of a vehicle, having decided that he didn’t want to go through with killing himself, called his girlfriend, and then climbed back in and stayed on the phone with her while he died was “of sound mind” to be making decisions about whether he wanted to live or die. The girl was clearly a poison to him.

If someone called you and confessed that they had been about to kill themselves, but gotten out of the vehicle, would you, under any circumstances, tell them to get back in, and then stay with them on the phone while they died? Absolutely not. Every single one of us would say, “Where are you? I’m coming to get you. Stay on the phone with me while I drive to you. Don’t get back in the vehicle.”

Because we’re not psychopaths.

No, we shouldn’t let the state set precedents in its One Size Fits All legal system that would allow it to prosecute anyone who ever said “kill yourself” in a text message, phone call, or chat room. Yet there’s an enormous gap between these things and what this girl did. And just as we should not allow the state to set precedents like that, neither should we set the precedent that psychopaths are not responsible for the consequences of their psychological abuse because it technically doesn’t include physical assault.

But abuse is abuse.

The NAP does not specify that violence has to be physical.

* Those who are not trained divers or trained lifeguards should never attempt to rescue a drowning person. Cold though it is to say, attempting it will ensure only that two people die. Drowning people thrash wildly, panicking, and are extremely likely to knock you unconscious. If you do not have a lifejacket and a rope or boat, you should never attempt to rescue a drowning person yourself, unless you’ve explicitly been trained to be a fantastic swimmer. Not only that, but if you do manage to get behind the person without being knocked unconscious, do you know how heavy another human being is when you’re pulling them through water? The average person doesn’t have the stamina to swim a hundred yards alone, much less when dragging someone else through the water.

1134 Words on a Psychopath

Anyone who has ever been the victim of a psychopath sees the clear parallels to domestic abuse. I grew up watching my mother be thrown through windows by alcoholic Everett Barber (yes, that’s really him, because FUCK HIM), beaten, punched, kicked, and choked. Everett is reformed now, and has been through AA, but I will not accept his redemption as valid until he’s actually apologized to my sister and me, and to our mom–I’ll accept the apology on my mom’s behalf.

I’ve certainly seen my fair share of domestic violence. So please understand that, when I make this analogy, I do so with full knowledge of the unbridled horror of it, and with full awareness of the helplessness of the people involved. Because that’s what perpetuates the violence–helplessness. As a child, I was helpless and powerless to affect the situation. But I tried. That early Saturday morning as my mom choked out, “Everett, I can’t breathe,” I tried, pulling two sharp knives from the kitchen drawer. “Mom, I’ve got a knife!” I shouted and took two steps toward the bedroom.

And then I stopped.

Because I was 8 years old. I was in the second grade, and this was a grown man. Knives or not, I knew I couldn’t take him.

I turned back to the drawer and, standing in darkness, dropped the knives. And then I burst into tears and repeatedly said, “Mom, I’m sorry…”

It only recently occurred to me why I apologized. I never thought about it until I reached that point in Dancing in Hellfire. I apologized because I couldn’t help her. I apologized because I was helpless. I apologized because I was powerless. There was NOTHING I could do.

You can’t imagine how badly I want to go to Everett’s house and totally fuck him up. I reject violence in all its forms, and that is the only thing staying my hand. I’m not a scared little kid now, and he’s not a big adult. I’m in my prime and he’s almost an old man. By all rights, I should now make him helpless and powerless.

But I won’t.

But neither am I able to forgive it or just let it go, and I doubt anyone would be able to. Not if they saw what I saw and heard what I heard.

So I know exactly what I’m drawinG parallels to. And I’m doing so for a reason. Because the psychopath systematically establishes power over the target until the target is helpless, and if you don’t know it’s coming the psychopath will succeed. And, often, the psychopath will succeed anyway, because the psychopath has spent a lot more time perfecting their craft than you will have spent perfecting your defense.

Get back from me, demon, or be exorcised.

Get back from me, demon, or be exorcised.

The psychopath knows what to offer you to entice you. Me, I was looking for a soulmate, someone to connect with on a different level, a kin spirit. Whatever you want, the psychopath knows how to make it appear that you’ve found it. The psychopath is good at this.

But it’s not just about lying to you. It’s about making you lie to yourself. It’s about using lies to make you tell and believe your own lies; it’s about the psychopath enticing you so much that you engage in self-deceit, because then the psychopath truly has power over you.

The psychopath will tell histories that conflict with what you remember. You are right. Never, ever lose sight of that. When something you know conflicts with the psychopath, you are the one who is right. Don’t let yourself believe the psychopath’s version thinking that you can secretly hold to the truth, go along with it, and play the psychopath’s game.

You can’t. You will lose.

The psychopath knows doublethink better than you, and the psychopath will not only use it, but will manipulate you into using it, and it’s then that you are nearly her thrall. By this point, it’s almost certainly got to run its course, which will be painful for you. Very painful. Don’t let it get this far. You are the one who is right. Don’t allow your memories or thoughts to be overwritten. Don’t play along.

The psychopath expects you to play along. Remember, the psychopath is several steps ahead. The psychopath knows fully that when you agree, you have conflict internally and that you are agreeing because you want to believe and that you’re entertaining the possibility that you misremember. When you say, “Hmm… I think I remember bits and pieces of that,” the psychopath knows you’re conflicted. But if you cede the ground that you are wrong, you’re giving the psychopath license to rewrite your memories in her favor. And the psychopath will do so.

A lot of people think that victims in abusive relationships are fools for hanging around, but it’s important to understand that there are a lot of emotional factors there. It’s almost like Stockholm Syndrome in nature–the abuser fulfills their needs and gets emotional highs from it, or some other kind of pleasure from it. But the victim gets something, too.

Yes, you are.

Yes, you are.

The victim is always chasing a carrot on a stick, and the psychopath is always dangling it and tempting with it. Your hope is the strongest weapon in the psychopath’s arsenal. Your hope that it will work out, that the abuse will stop, that you’ll get what is on offer… These are what give the psychopath power over you. The psychopath knows that you hope, and knows how to keep that hope alive. The psychopath keeps the tiny embers burning, kindling the fire just enough to keep it from going out altogether.

You have to let that fire die.

It’s not easy, and the psychopath knows that, too. It’s never easy to stop chasing the carrot, to give up hope and accept that you’ll simply never have the carrot, and it’s made harder by the psychopath’s insistence that you can have the carrot, often “one day.” But you want the carrot, don’t you? Isn’t the carrot fucking everything you ever wanted?

Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to be used
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

So knowing how to deal with a psychopath, and how to keep yourself protected (because the psychopath lives and loves to play games) is useful, but it doesn’t help much until you’ve identified a psychopath. That’s obviously a lot easier to do in hindsight, isn’t it? Only hindsight gives us the clarity to realize what has happened, how we were played with from the start, and how we were merely victims. How can we distinguish sincerity from psychopathy? How can we know we didn’t misremember?

We can’t.

Ego and Bait

This post is no longer 1134 words. I’m okay with that, because the preceding section is. Anyway.

One of the biggest telltale signs of a psychopath is an out-of-control ego. This doesn’t necessarily manifest in pride; obscene amounts of pride don’t necessarily mean psychopathy, and the psychopath is too clever to display large amounts of pride. The psychopath doesn’t do anything that blatantly gives away the ego.

Ego manifests in many ways, and perhaps the most obvious way is a lack of empathy. But it also appears in harder-to-notice condescension.

I’m saddened to think that I’m absolutely correct, but I don’t know what else to think. Between the stupid “communication through blogging” shit and the way she repeatedly tries to elicit an emotional response from me, only to immediately fall back to one sentence replies and silence, there’s nothing else I can think. She just keeps throwing bait out there and then running back to the shadows, presumably to laugh and enjoy herself when I take the bait. But I didn’t take the bait this time. I kicked it toward the bushes she fled to. And I won’t take the bait again.

Truly the most appropriate image there is for this.

Truly the most appropriate image there is for this.

This time I didn’t try to kick the football. I turned and tried to kick her (remember we’re being metaphorical here). I’m not going to do another somersault because she cajoled me into trying to kick the ball again. I’m not a fucking dolphin at Sea World. I’m Charlie Brown, and I’m no longer trying to kick the ball. Could she convince me to try again?

Absolutely. But not with words. No matter what she says, there are no words Lucy could use to get this Charlie to try to kick the ball again.

Ignorance: The Psychopath’s New Weapon

I actually do want to make the case at some point that humanity is in real trouble, especially in the United States, where we have cultivated ignorance and exonerated it consistently enough that there’s little prospect for continued growth. I frequently have people say “I’m not reading that book you wrote” about one of my comments, proudly broadcasting to the world that they can’t be bothered to read, and this is worsened by it being said as though I’m the one in the wrong, I’m the fool, for writing a reply that was too long for their particular brand of idiocy. But that’s for another day, and the title I’ve chosen isn’t actually related to that.

Someone recently asked me how I can publish a story that Bradley* wrote, and I was told that “Aria didn’t write the story. Bradley wrote the story.”

Needless to say, my mind was positively boggled. And, of course, this was from the psychopath (told you–see this post to learn what I mean), no doubt trying a different tactic to get an emotional reaction out of me–you know, as the psychopath needs. I’m proud to say I didn’t give it, and I won’t give it now, because there was no emotion to my reply. There was only cold brutality.

I replied pointing out that humans evolved from apes, yet there are still monkeys. My point was actually that the psychopath’s question was just as ignorant as the Christians who ask how there can still be monkeys if we evolved from them, and to point out that, yes, I did evolve from Bradley. It was the perfect metaphor for the situation. But the psychopath doubled down on the ignorance and said “Yet we don’t claim credit for the work of the monkeys” or something like that.

I replied three times. First, simply “I did write it.” Then I gave a mini-explanation, a very short one of just a few sentences, and then I said predictable. Well. The psychopath was predictable, to the extent that I couldn’t even pretend to be surprised or pretend to have an emotional reaction. That’s what the psychopath does, remember? I explained that in the last post about it. The psychopath attempts to elicit an emotional response, presumably to feel in control but I don’t care enough to ask “Why,” and then immediately drops back to short replies and no replies. The psychopath simply wants drama, simply feeds on emotion, and is incapable of caring what those emotions are.

So rather than feeding that, I rebuked the psychopath extensively, shredding the thought process and revealing the ignorance underlying it. “You can’t publish that story you wrote yesterday, because you were wearing different socks yesterday, and since you’re not wearing the same socks today you’re a different person and therefore not the person who wrote the story,” I used as a slippery slope. It’s perfectly true, though. The reasoning is as asinine as it was faulty, and rivaled only by the almost pathetic attempt to elicit an emotional response.

There’s just no context where the psychopath’s question and replies make any sense. Even the people at the Westborough Baptist Church aren’t that looney. No one is so confused on the matter that they think a transgender person is literally a different person mid and post transition, especially not to the extent that I wouldn’t be able to rightfully claim to have written something that I wrote.

In another brazen display of the psychopath’s out-of-control ego, I was asked how I expected her to react. I must admit that I took some vindictive pleasure in pointing out that… I didn’t. I never gave a moment of thought to how the psychopath would react. I didn’t consider how George W. Bush, my Aunt Diane, my ex-wife, or Asheik Mohammed Samar, random name in India that I just made up, would react, either. Because these people aren’t part of my life. I don’t make it a habit of wondering what random people who aren’t part of my life will think or feel about what I do. I consider the reactions only of people in my life and people who care about me–not random people thousands of miles away.

Of course, it’s not true that the psychopath is a random person thousands of miles away, but that’s the thing–she might as well be. I didn’t destroy the relationship and friendship, and I clinged to them far longer than I should have.

When I told a friend of this, she asked what could the psychopath say that I would take as sincere. The answer is…

Nothing.

The time for words is long over. There is absolutely nothing that she could say to me that I would accept as sincere. Only actions can speak loudly enough to be heard over the blood pouring from the knives she put in my back.

It still isn’t any easier for me. I doubt it ever will be, and she surely knows that; she certainly knows that I still love her and want to believe she’s sincere. But I can’t.

In the interest of our friendship and years of circles, I did give her time to reply and apologize for the fucked up thing she’d said. She hasn’t done so. Again–predictable.

One thing is all it would take from her. And, believe me, I want to let it all go. You have no idea how badly I want to just release all of it. It would be so easy. One thing to convince me that she’s sincere, that she’s not just a psychopath, that I’m not just her victim, and that she is the person she claims to be. One thing.

And it is the one thing a psychopath would never do.

As I said.

Predictable.

* My “Other name” isn’t Bradley, but that’s close enough.

A Psychopath and Her Victim: Abusive Relationships and Walking Away

Sunday night, I received a message from the Vegas chick: a strange apology fixated almost entirely on herself rather than me, the recipient of the apology, which was so blatant in its narcissism that it contained references to herself 46 times. While I do have to give the Vegas Ordeal its treatment one day and fully describe the thing from start to end, it is likely to soak up thirty thousand words alone, so it’s almost certain to be reserved for Dancing in Hellfire. But it’s okay–I don’t intend to harp on about it today. It was damaging, it was severe, and it was unparalleled to anything most people will ever experience.

And it was, I see now, nothing more than the sadomasochistic dance of a psychopath and her victim.

She knew of my needs, because I’m an upfront person. I’ve just honestly been through too much to have interest in playing games, so I’m straight up with people. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve by any means, but I don’t beat around the bush. If I expect something of someone, I tell them that; I don’t leave it to them to guess what I want, what I need, or what I expect. A lot of people make this claim, in my experience, but I actually mean it. If I say “I need direct communication from you, or I’m walking away,” then take it at face value: if I don’t get direct communication from you, then I’m walking away. I don’t throw ultimatums lightly, and I never back down from them. A great deal of consideration and introspection goes into me and everything I do; I do nothing lightly, and I do nothing to manipulate. When I make such a claim, it is because I want direct communication, but that’s hardly manipulation; it’s a warning that I’ve been pushed to the brink, and that I will tolerate no more.

Between my old website, many long conversations with her, and years of circling around, she knew me very well; she knew exactly how to exploit me. She knew exactly what to offer me, exactly what to say, and exactly how to say it. She knew exactly what to do to turn me into her thrall, and she succeeded. I thought she was genuine, because she knew that I sought someone who was genuine, and so she knew to present herself as genuine. It was like this in every area. She knew what to do and what to say to take me off my guard, to manipulate me, and to bring me under her control. And she succeeded, as she knew she would, because I’d given her the tools she needed to do it over years of friendship and borderline relationship.

It was jarring when I realized, shortly after my return to Mississippi, that she had done this exact thing to me before, when she lived in Alabama and offered for me to come see her on one of my birthdays. I was excited; she seemed to be excited. And I got about halfway there when her sister texted me and explained that we couldn’t go through with it because of some ridiculous bullshit. Before the Vegas Ordeal, she knew that she couldn’t do that again, and that if she tried that shit when I was halfway there I was likely to absolutely hate her forever, no holds barred, and would be uninterested in ever speaking to her again. But what would have been the next closest thing? Turning me away within days. And that’s precisely what she did.

Blinded by the hope that we could repair our relationship and unable to see that I was playing directly into the hands of a psychopath, I stayed in touch with her; we immediately went back to talking on the phone every night, and I did my best to keep a smile on my face as the fallout from the Vegas Ordeal struck me repeatedly. As I said, evidently I was supposed to be more cheerful about the inevitability of living out of my car then, because she turned away from me for being a downer. Yes, this chick for whom I’d given up my entire life, closed my company, spent all my money, and moved across the country to be with… threw me out of her life because I was being a downer about the incredible consequences I faced from all of that.

Then I dabbled and thought about reigniting my old site, and she almost immediately contacted me through it. I emailed her explaining something she’d misinterpreted. She replied with a post on her blog. I replied via email. She replied with another post. Soon we had fallen into a cycle of posts, where I would post something direct and meaningful, and she would post vague, non-sensical poetry that had to be interpreted–and even then didn’t make a lot of sense. I grew frustrated and threw the gauntlet at her feet: engage me directly, because I’m finished with this stupid shit. And it was stupid, to be communicating that way. She clearly wanted to communicate with me; I clearly wanted to communicate with her. But she wouldn’t give me the “satisfaction” of doing it directly.

Through all of this, I was motivated by need–the same need I’ve written about before–and it’s no coincidence that I was only ever able to go to her blog to read her replies as Aria. Otherwise, it was just too painful. And though I’ve minimized that need substantially, and though she went to great lengths to make that a need for her (as psychopaths do) and succeeded, I did force myself again to throw my hands up and walk away, which made this the third time I’d had to do it. If you’ve ever walked away from someone you love, you know how difficult that is. And I had to do it not once, not twice, but three fucking times. It is more complex because of the psychopath/victim game that she has played, but that doesn’t change the fact that I do love her, and that this is merely on top of the standard relationship interplay of a psychopath and her victim.

The manipulation in the apology she sent is blatant. Out of respect and love for her, I will not post it here, but suffice it to say that it’s the most unapologetic apology I’ve ever seen. While professing to be sorry, she creates a shadow version of herself that “has no empathy” and magically has an “undiagnosed mental disorder” (a refrain I’ve seen so often from women attempting to excuse their fucked up behavior), and, here is the best part, “a work in progress.” As though we’re not all works in progress. But it’s more insidious than that, isn’t it? You can’t be too harsh on a work in progress. When aspiring musicians share their music, they say it’s a work in progress as a buffer against criticism. Shitty Early Access games on Steam hide behind “It’s an alpha build” or “It’s a beta build” as a matter of policy, because they know–we all know–that you can’t judge a paper too harshly when it’s still a “work in progress.” It is the phrase of a coward, someone who wants to indemnify themselves against criticism and consequences; it is not the phrase of someone who admits they were wrong and is genuinely apologetic for it.

It’s of extreme significance that among the last things she’d heard from me, before I walked away in October, was that I demanded an apology. Because it made her aware that the only way she could keep playing with her toy would be to offer me an apology–and so she did. In the most insincere way possible. At the end, she also added that she wants me to know that it wasn’t my fault. That blew my mind to read.

She didn’t have to tell me that. I’ve known that from the beginning. I have never said or believed otherwise. I have said countless times that I rolled the dice, but she was the one who determined the outcome. I have never said or implied otherwise. Why does she think that she can make me believe it was my fault? She can’t. I was there; I know what happened. I know how it went down, and I’ve known from the beginning that none of this was my fault. That doesn’t have to be said.

This would be the fourth time that I’ve had to walk away from her, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. But I know now… that walking away doesn’t do any good in this sort of relationship. It simply doesn’t. I have to make her lose interest, and I do that with the Gray Rock technique. You can’t always walk away from a psychopath who has targeted you as her toy, because she won’t leave you alone; like clockwork, she will pop back up and rip the wounds open again, all while denying that it was her intention to do so and all while apologizing for how sorry she is in the first place. See why I can’t accept the apology as sincere? The very fact that she would contact me to voice her apology is ipso facto proof that it isn’t sincere and can’t be sincere.

In talking to a friend, I was asked what kind of apology I would accept as sincere. If she showed up on my doorstep one morning, in tears with her arms wide, saying, “I’m so sorry” when I answered the door, then I would accept that as sincere. But she wouldn’t do that under any circumstances. But I don’t want that, really. I don’t. What I want… is for her to be sincere. And she can’t do that. Or she won’t do that. It doesn’t matter, whichever is the case. The result is the same.

If you’ve never been in such a relationship, count your blessings, because it’s much easier to become ensnared than one might think. The psychopath knows what you want. The psychopath knows what you need. The psychopath knows where you are weak, and the psychopath knows how to exploit those weaknesses. The psychopath knows where you are strong, and the psychopath knows how to avoid those areas. The psychopath knows how to get into your head and into your heart, and how to keep herself there. The psychopath knows how to hook you, and the psychopath knows how to keep you on the hook.

And walking away doesn’t always work; it depends on what the psychopath is getting out of it. The key thing is that the psychopath has to lose interest. The psychopath has to come to believe that her toy is broken; only then will she move on to find a different toy. As long as she is getting what she needs out of the toy, she will keep picking it up. I don’t pretend to know what she wants from me or what she is getting out of this, but her apology was most assuredly not for me or my benefit, and her immediate switch back to cold, one-line responses is all the proof that I need of that. She just wanted to elicit an emotional response from me, and I gave it to her, because I reacted emotionally–because she knew how to stir those latent emotions back up, how to rip those scabs back off. The psychopath has to be made to lose interest. And this means I must be a gray rock to her.

Because she won’t leave me alone… And goddamn it all part of me doesn’t want her to leave me alone. Part of me wants her to be the person that she pretends to be. But she never will be. That’s what I want, though: I want her to be the person she pretended to be, to be the person she ostensibly wants to be. But she isn’t that person. And I’ve accepted this. I accepted it long ago.

The Assumption Liberals Make

Elements on the left seem increasingly zealous about whether Trump was, perhaps, friendlier with Russia than they want him to be, but I’m not really interested in whether the increasingly desperate attempts to engage Trump and Putin in a bromance is based on truth or some mutated psychosis leftover from the Cold War. Actually, I’d say that Cold War paranoia is more like AIDS, because AIDS isn’t actually the cause of death for HIV sufferers–some other disease infects them due to their severely weakened immune system, and this disease is what kills them. So the Cold War paranoia is the AIDS that made us susceptible to this weird, virulent strain of “Them Damn Russians!”

But whether we’ve got a severe AIDS infection or whether we have cause to distrust Trump’s Russia connections isn’t of much relevance until another question has been answered: Why should we care if Trump has these alleged connections?

The first contention is that we should care because Trump is close to the country that subverted our democracy by interfering in our election. At best, this ranks among the most dubious claims that I’ve ever heard. The leaks ripped the DNC into pieces, but progressives have benefited from that as much as Trump did, so unless they’re guilty of the same collusion (in fact, irate Sanders supporters have at least as much motive as Trump–“Oh, hello, Seth Rich!”), the claim appears to be nothing but “You possibly benefited from this, so you’re guilty of collusion, and even though we provably benefited, we’re not guilty of collusion.”

Even if we assume that all of the Democrats’ bizarre claims are true, it still doesn’t answer the question of why I should care. Hillary was no better suited to be President than Trump, and that some people are willing to eat a plate full of dog vomit over a pile of festering shit is of no consequence to me, and certainly not reason for me to get mad that more people (by the weight of the political rules we all agreed to beforehand) scarfed down a helping of turds.

Even if Trump only won because of these ties to Russia (which, again, we’re assuming are true), so freaking what? If you’re going to hold up electoral processes as wonderful, quasi-magical things that must be insulated from influence of the outside world, and whose integrity must be beyond reproach, I’d take your claim more seriously if you hadn’t spent the last six months rioting because you didn’t get the election result that you wanted.

Until actual evidence has been put forward–something more than a laundry list of “He Said, She Said” bullshit–and as long as we live in a place where one of the great social principles is that one is innocent until proven guilty, it follows that the only people undermining the integrity of the election are the Democrats. Mind you, this is after Jill Stein’s recount attempts showed no disparity at all with the results.

So let’s be clear about this. It’s not “The election” that democrats are claiming was influenced. The vote totals were not changed via Russian meddling, and, to my knowledge, only the most uninformed and absurd progressives are making such claims. For the greater part, what liberals actually mean when they allege that Russia influenced the election is that Russia influenced voters.

Again, I must ask: “So?”

By the Constitution of the United States, an American voter has the immutable right to not only believe whatever the hell they want, but also (an extension modern liberals gloss over) to act in accordance with those beliefs. It doesn’t matter if Bob votes for Trump because he’s a Christian, as is Bob, and if Bob was convinced of Christianity by Americans or by Russian Jesuits. Why Bob believes what he believes is his own business, not ours, and we can’t threaten that without also curtailing his right to believe what he wants.

So, too, if Jim voted for Trump because he believes Hillary is the worst thing since gonorrhea, it’s not of any relevance to us whether he believes that because of the “documentary” “Clinton Cash,” because of the DNC Leaks, because of Wikileaks, or because he was taught to be Republicans by his parents and never looked any further. He cast his vote, and his reasons for doing so may be whatever he wants. Maybe he doesn’t like Hillary’s hair, or maybe he finds Hillary to be somewhat more psychopathic than the unpredictable Trump.

Whatever his reasons are, they are his reasons, and the alleged beauty of the American political system is that he gets the same number of votes to express his values as does anyone else. It’s fine that liberals would disagree with his reasons–either because they believe those reasons are factually incorrect, or they believe that one should value other things–and it’s fine for them to express this disagreement through the one vote that they each have.

What’s not okay is attempting to erase Jim’s vote because one disagrees with the beliefs he holds that led him to vote the way that he did. I notice there’s no criticism of the people who only voted for Hillary for stupid, demagogic reasons, or for equally asinine reasons like “Well, she’s the first female candidate!”

The liberals, it seems, don’t want to erase every vote that was based on reasons with which they disagree (since “She’s the first female candidate!” obviously flies directly in the face of the claim that “Gender shouldn’t matter,” the basis they use for criticising Trump supporters who voted for Trump because he’s a man), but only those for the other candidate with which they disagree, and, let’s be honest here, that’s basically all of them, because the entire fucking rift exists because liberals and conservatives value different things.

Is there such a thing, to the Democrat, as a good reason to vote for Trump? If there is, I’ve yet to hear a Democrat acquiesce that point.

You voted for Trump because you liked his expressed opinions on immigration? No, that’s illegitimate, you racist bastard.

You voted for Trump because you preferred his probable tax policy? No, that’s illegitimate, you elitist fool, dick-riding the rich.

You voted for Trump because you didn’t like Hillary’s arrogant and sociopathic demeanor? No, that’s illegitimate, you sexist pig.

You voted for Trump because you liked his abortion stance? No, that’s illegitimate, you fascist, because people have the right to convenient abortions.

The conservative/liberal rift occurs long before the candidates are chosen. The point of the presidential debates is not for the Republican candidate to entice Democrats, or the Democratic candidate to entice Republicans. Even independents are rarely swayed by such things. People simply don’t operate that way. Most have their value system and will vote for whoever best fits with that value system, and the divide between Republicans and Democrats is so large that there is almost no crossover. How many people voted for Trump because of Wikileaks or these presumed-to-be-true ties to Russia? I’d wager that the number is fewer than a thousand, throughout the entire country, because that’s just not how people work.

No amount of terrible things you told me about Hillary, however true they were, would have caused me to vote for Trump. No amount of terrible things you told me about Trump would have caused me to vote for Hillary. Honestly, how manipulable do Democrats think people are? At absolute best, the revelations of how much a candidate sucks will only reinforce whatever position I currently hold, and most Americans will readily pick and choose what information to take in and what information to discard.

This is practically a tautology. I’ve seen countless Democrats say that there’s no evidence that Hillary has ever done anything wrong–no hyperbole, no straw man. Yet these same people proclaim there is incontrovertible evidence that Trump did countless things wrong. Meanwhile, Republicans do the same and claim that there’s no evidence that Trump has ever done anything wrong, and that there is incontrovertible evidence that Hillary is the devil.

Anyone who is actually open to the information long ago concluded that both of these people are disgusting toads who have no business being anywhere near a position of power. That’s the keyword: open to the information. Because there is plenty of evidence that both Trump and Hillary are absolutely awful.

What we’re talking about isn’t that someone isn’t “open to the information.” It’s simply that someone disagrees with the liberal, and the liberal lost the election because of that disagreement.

Remember any of the 90s sitcoms that had families “vote” on what they were going to do, only for the adults to immediately lose the vote and say, “Well, our votes each count as two, because we’re adults”?

That’s all we’re seeing here.

And even if all this was true, no one has yet explained to me why it’s undesirable for the United States to have warmer relations with Russia. No one seems to care that the United States has warm ties to the European Union–or Pakistan, or India, or Saudi Arabia. So why Russia? In what weird understanding of the world is it bad for two great powers to get along?

Is it because of their human rights record? No, it can’t be that, because many of our Middle Eastern buddies have far worse records–as do we, as we house 20% of the world’s prison population while having only 4% of the world’s population, and you can’t get to those numbers without severe destruction of liberty and rights. Is it because Russia has nukes? So does India, Pakistan, China, many EU countries, the UK, and many others, so it can’t be that, either.

In fact, I’d bet everything that only a year ago the majority of liberals would have happily agreed that the United States needs to work with Russia. Why do liberals suddenly hate them so much that state congressional Democrats are seriously making the claim that the United States needs to break off all communications with Russia? What changed between then and now?

Democrats lost the White House. And since recount efforts showed the votes weren’t tampered with, rather than accepting responsibility and blaming themselves, they would undermine democracy itself with the contention that your vote only counts if you cast it for the reasons they want you to cast it. Put bluntly, your vote only counts if you cast it for their candidate.

They’d deny this adamantly, of course. “You can vote for a Republican,” they’d say. “Just not freaking Trump!”

I see no reason to believe that there’s any truth to this amended claim. In fact, I’m sure we’d be here today if Hillary lost to Kasich or Cruz. They say otherwise, and it’s useless to argue one hypothetical against another. Maybe they are telling the truth. I doubt it, though, because they’ve already lied to themselves about what they’re saying, and what they’re really saying is, “Your vote only counts if you cast it for reasons we agree with.”

If you want to talk tyranny and fascism, I think we’d have a hard time finding clearer examples.

Is Arvin Right or Wrong?

I’m anti-war.

However, I’m only “anti-war” in the sense that “war” is not a distinctly existent thing, but is instead merely a label we assign to certain actions that fulfill a specific criteria. It’s not the “war” that I condemn but the actions that earn that label. I don’t condemn “war” because there is nothing there to condemn. In the real world, a “war” never happens. Instead, what happens is that one person fires a bullet or rockets at other people. I condemn this whether it’s a person with state authority at their back who is firing the gun or whether it’s a random psychopath without state authority who is firing the gun.

There’s no such thing as a “war” any more than there is such a thing as a “stamp collection.” War is merely a collectivist category, an umbrella term used to denote the nature of certain actions, and the “war” never occurs, though the actions do.

There’s also no such thing as this ubiquitous group of “veterans” who all share culpability for actions that have earned the label of “war.” There is no “LGBT people,” and no “black people.” Neither is there a “people who are veterans” group. There are only individuals with certain characteristics, and, regardless of what characteristics they may have in common (even if that characteristic is that they’ve all shared in one superficially identical choice, such as LGBT people and veterans who chose to join the military), it’s inaccurate to suggest that “all veterans are this” or “all veterans are that.”

Tonight, Sunday’s episode of “Call to Freedom” airs at 10p Central, and Will Coley will again relate the parable of the man who grew and sold grapes knowing that they’d be used to make wine. The point of the parable is that the man had knowledge of the inevitable outcome, and yet he took the action anyway, and therefore bore responsibility for the drunkenness and the actions of the drunk people. I like the parable, but there is one critical difference between the man who sold the grapes and “veterans.” The man who sold the grapes is an individual; “veterans” is a collection.

The question is most certainly not “whether veterans knew” what they were signing up for, or “whether veterans knew” when signing up what the consequences of that would be. The question is whether “this individual who took these actions” had full cognizance of what they were agreeing to, and whether they had reasonable knowledge of the consequences. It’s a topic I only touched upon briefly–due to a catnichal problem, I missed the first half of the show–and only mentioned in passing near the end of the episode, but I would certainly argue that the man who changes the tires on an F-15 has less responsibility for the bomb’s destruction than the person who actually pushed the button that dropped the bomb.

It reminds me a lot of World War 2 and the company that produced Zyklon-B in Germany, and whether the owner of the company bore any responsibility for the Jews murdered with the poisonous gas. The entire argument hinged upon one thing: whether he knew how the gas was being used. I would say that’s a limited argument, though, because it ignores the fact that the owner may very well not have had a choice–this is Hitler we’re talking about, and if the owner hadn’t continued selling them the Zyklon-B, he’d have found himself replaced and in one of the concentration camps alongside the Jews. Can we really condemn him for giving in to this blatant coercion and fear in the interest of self-preservation?

The owner wasn’t alone in his responsibility, though. What of all the chemists and engineers who surely had some idea of how their product was being used? Because there is much to be said for the idea that many of the people who joined the military did so because of the coercive nature of poverty and were essentially facing the same crisis of self-preservation as the owner of the manufacturer of Zyklon-B, and that the military was merely a provider of a job to them in a time and place where they had no better options. Even I once looked into joining the Navy, for exactly this reason. What of the factory workers (or however Zyklon-B is produced) who knew how the pellets were being used by the Nazis, and yet did not quit their jobs? Should they not be held as responsible for the gas’s usage as Hitler himself?

Why not just round up everyone involved with the company and try them for the Holocaust?

Because, while we accept the notion of individual responsibility, we also can’t deny that there is such a thing as diffused responsibility. While we must hold the soldier accountable for the bombs he actually drops with the press of a button, we cannot deny the diffused responsibility of conditions and causes that led him to be there in the first place. The pilot didn’t produce the bomb, or call for it to be dropped, and neither did Oppenheimer open the hatch to see the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Neither did Einstein start World War 2, a period of total war that we today have a hard time even grasping because we have not experienced total war since.

Is a person responsible for the conditions in which they have found themselves?

“To some degree,” perhaps, at least in some cases. Surely the man who robs the bank because he became addicted to heroin and couldn’t afford any more bears responsibility for robbing the bank because he made all of the choices that led to his situation, right? Wrong. If heroin was legal, then much of what he experienced wouldn’t have happened, and he certainly had no say-so in the legal status of heroin.

It’s ultimately a question of Nature versus Nurture, then. This is a question that people have been debating for centuries, and we’re no nearer to the answer. Is a person responsible for the choices that they make in the conditions they are in? Sometimes. But if Bob has lost everything from his home to his job because of a medical condition that he couldn’t afford or prevent, is Bob really responsible when he robs a convenient store to avoid starvation? How much conscious, deliberate effort to effect change is possible? Is it even possible that Bob could have found himself in different circumstances? Does Bob even have free will to change those circumstances?

“We don’t know” is the answer to all of these questions. We can only assume, and we can only assume that our assumptions are valid. And we can only assume that our assumption that are assumptions are valid is valid. So on and so on, ad infinitum.

I would agree that there is substantially increased likelihood that an individual with the characteristic of “having been a veteran” is also a murderer, but that is the farthest I will go toward absolutism, and that’s the farthest that anyone should be willing to go, because anywhere beyond that is where the assumptions start. After all, we have the logic and data that defines “war” as being undertaken by soldiers and as being a category of events that necessarily involve murder; by this criteria, it is obvious that we will find among soldiers an increased chance of “once took another human life.”

But we’re all murderers, every single one of us–the only escape from that is to include “human” in our definition of murder. We have all taken lives, plant or animal or human. It was Jesus Christ who said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I have to agree.

Let the first person who hasn’t ever taken another life criticize “veterans” as a group. Until then, let’s keep our assumptions under control.

Issuing a Challenge to the United States

To clarify the title (originally “War With North Korea is Inevitable”), within the confines of the current U.S. foreign policy, war is inevitable with North Korea. Since it seems extraordinarily unlikely that U.S. foreign policy is going to change very much, I’m reasonably confident that war with North Korea–even if it’s been avoided this weekend–remains inevitable.

First, Kim Jong Un and North Korea aren’t going to stop working out how to make an ICBM and how to lob it at the United States.

Second, they take so much pride in their nuclear program that they would all rather die than surrender it.

Third, the United States is not going to tolerate North Korea developing a nuclear warhead ICBM.

China doesn’t have the power over North Korea that we non-North Koreans like to think they have. It’s true that China is North Korea’s primary lifeline to the world, but North Korea is notoriously defiant, even of China, and if China could tell Kim to “Just cut it out” they would have done so by now–or around the time that we sent carrier groups into the Korean Peninsula. North Korea isn’t part of China, and they don’t like to be treated as though they are–the Sino-Korea Treaty takes great care to be a mutual defense pact, and not a case of “We’re going to protect our little brother.”

While we in NATO know that Montenegro isn’t going to come to the defense of the United States if we’re attacked–and, even if they do, they can’t contribute anything of any actual significance–this isn’t necessarily true with North Korea and China. While China can undoubtedly do more than North Korea, North Korea’s capabilities aren’t inconsequential, though they are limited to that region; North Korea would be almost no help in a war against the United States (except that they’d be able to decimate South Korea), but could contribute considerably in a war against Japan or India.

Our tendency to treat North Korea like China’s little brother, quite frankly, pisses off North Korea. And, realistically, it probably should piss them off. It’s supremely arrogant of us, first of all. North Korea came as close to “kicking our asses” as any nation ever has. It’s rather like getting beat up on a playground and limping away while telling the kid who beat you up that they should be glad they’re being protected by their big brother. They have a feather in their cap that few nations can claim: they took on and defeated the United States.

There are a lot of reasons for that. Our hearts were never in it, and we had to impose the draft to get people involved–and it’s a matter of record that draftees are motivated more by the desire to get back home than to win a “righteous” battle. We ended the Korean War after only three years, making it perhaps one of the shortest wars in American history. That’s how little we wanted to fight it. We were also constrained by UN policies and regulations that, like Vietnam, seemed more designed to make the war perpetual than anything. None of this really matters, though, because the fact remains: North Korea fought us, and North Korea won.

Compare it to our involvement in World War 2, where we were ready to throw anything and everything into the war effort, and against Japan. Then, for the Korean War, we could barely muster an entire regiment of volunteers.

I was relieved today to wake up and learn that we hadn’t started World War 3 in response to North Korea’s testing of a nuclear weapon, primarily because North Korea didn’t test a nuclear weapon.

What does it really matter, though?

It has merely postponed it.

For months, indications have been that North Korea was about to test another nuclear weapon. This is why tensions have been so high–the evidence is pretty clear that we are going to attack if they do so. Satellite images routinely show the “right” activity to indicate there is about to be a nuclear test, and it’s pretty likely that Kim Jong Un backed out at the last minute precisely because of pressure from the United States and China.

But this hasn’t changed anything.

It’s worth taking a moment to ask ourselves why we care whether North Korea tests nuclear weapons. The answer is that our actions throughout the last century have left us having to look over our shoulders constantly, and the only solution we’ve found for this is to continually look over our shoulder and attack anyone we happen to see–which, of course, means that we have to spend even more time looking over our shoulder.

In less than a week, we went from “Are we about to start World War 3 with Russia?” to “Are we about to start World War 3 with China?” One gets the image of a lunatic spinning wildly in circles firing an Ak-47 at every moving shadow he happens to see, paranoid and terrified that someone is coming to get him–and, honestly, is correct that someone is coming to get him, but only because he went around shooting people like a psychopath in the first place.

From what I can tell, this madman could really use some sleep. But he can’t sleep, because he’s created so many enemies that any one of them would sneak up on him in the middle of the night and slit his throat. So the only thing he can do is continue standing and spinning, firing missiles at anything that dares move in his presence while laughing and proclaiming to the world how secure and safe he is now that he’s gone through the world and shot everyone.

I was born on a planet alongside about six billion other people. For the first few years, things seemed pretty ordinary and sane, but then I noticed something odd. These otherwise rational and loving people had the strangest tendency to wantonly kill one another.

And then I noticed something even more bizarre.

Everyone acted like it was totally normal, and as though I was the crazy one for suggesting that we stop killing one another.

We’ve been killing each other for so long that we don’t know any other way. We’re set on that path, and the idea of getting off it, for some reason, terrifies us more than the prospect of nuclear war. God forbid we try to be friends with these people. No, we’d rather risk the possibility of annihilating life on the planet. The notion of just putting down the guns scares us more than nuclear war.

Something remarkable almost happened during World War 1. We came so close to putting war behind us permanently. It marks the most tragic moment in human history, when both sides of a war realized that they didn’t hate each other and that they were brothers being pit against one another by governments. On Christmas Day in the first year of the war, Central Europe forces and Allied forces put down their weapons and met on the battlefield for a day of celebration and peace.

War ends when the soldiers decide to stop fighting.

This posed such a threat to the powers that be–the states of the world–that it was forbidden from then on, and anyone who attempted it faced treason charges. They knew the danger it posed; they knew how close we had come to permanently putting down the guns. All we had to do was make one more decision–“When the sun rises tomorrow, we won’t resume shooting.”

The courage it took those soldiers to rise out of the trenches and walk toward the opposing side was more courage than anyone else had ever displayed in human history. There was every possibility that the other side would seize the opportunity to kill them. “They’re coming at us without weapons! The fools! Kill them! Kill them all!”

But that didn’t happen. They put down their own weapons, and the two sides met in a scene virtually guaranteed to bring tears to any peace lover’s eyes. We were right there. We had put down our guns and approached the other side, trusting that they would accept the gesture of peace and that it wouldn’t prove to be the dumbest thing anyone ever did. And our enemies rose and met the challenge. We came so close to learning it all right then–war is a racket of states. They can order us to kill each other all they want, but they can do nothing if we refuse to. And if we refuse to, we learned on that day, then the other side will refuse to.

It just takes that first courageous gesture of peace, that first person putting down the gun and stepping forward with a hand extended.

The next thing you know, generals and politicians throughout the world are freaking the fuck out because they’ve lost control of the minds of the soldiers and can no longer tell them to go and kill one another.

I challenge the United States to do this today.

Disarm.

If you expect to find a bogeyman pointing a gun at you in every shadow, then that is what you will find.

So disarm completely. Dismantle our warships, our jets, our bombs, our nuclear warheads. Disarm and dismantle everything. Show how courageous you are. Be like those soldiers in World War 1. It doesn’t take courage to continue maniacally shooting at everything that moves. What took courage is throwing up one’s arms, rising out of the trench, and approaching the other side without weapons drawn.

If we put down our weapons, they’ll put down theirs.

It’s time to end the worldwide Mexican Standoff.

And if our government doesn’t do it? Then American soldiers need to just go home. Just put down the weapons and go home. They can’t imprison all of you, because the only people who would imprison you would also have put down their weapons and gone home.

Is it unlikely? Perhaps.

Is it impossible?

The first Christmas of World War 1 suggests that it isn’t. It just takes courage.

 

UBI 2: Technological Recessions & Elon Musk

Elon Musk has recently made the case that eventually a UBI will be necessary, because technological advancements (particularly AI) will alleviate so much of humanity’s need to labor for sustenance that it will become necessary to provide people with sustenance sans labor, since there won’t be anything productive for them to do in order to earn that sustenance. It’s not hard to see Musk’s point–indeed, Gene Roddenberry made basically the same point with the Star Trek series, envisioning a world where mankind’s technological advancements had completely alleviated hunger, needs, and even wants. How realistic this utopian world is has been the subject of much debate, and it’s only briefly worth getting into, but before that, we have to discuss the other idea that, to my knowledge, no one else is bringing up.

AI’s Destruction of Humanity: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

From Stephen Hawking to Musk, the primary concern people have about Artificial Intelligence is that it will one day overthrow and enslave or exterminate homo sapiens. While many solutions have been put forward to prevent this, they all fall flat for one obvious reason: it’s impossible to account for everything. In fact, the only sentient life that even would be capable, in theory, of accounting for everything would be the very Artificial Intelligence that we’re trying to account for. Anyone who has read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park has received an introductory course in this idea: it can’t be done.

One could dedicate their lives to inventing a comb that is truly unbreakable, and someone will find a way to break it. Microsoft has spent years trying to develop a secure operating system, and there is always someone waiting in line with a new exploit. This perpetual dance is precisely what keeps anti-malware vendors in business; all the heuristics in the world can never fully protect a user, because there is always a flaw, always a vulnerability, and always something that simply can’t be accounted for.

Attempting to account for the very real possibility that Artificial Intelligence would one day annihilate humanity is a fool’s errand; at best, it could be postponed. We have thirteen year old kids hacking into NSA servers, and I’m expected to believe that computer intelligence (which already dominates humans in every intellectual pursuit, such as chess) capable of evolving can be made 100% secure? This also ignores the fact that there are psychopaths out there–usually who are head figures in one state or another–who would intentionally hack AI and purposely turn it into a weapon against their enemies. Every government in the world would do this, and would attempt to turn other governments’ AIs against them. To reiterate: even attempting this is a fool’s errand.

Notice also what Musk seems to envision for the role of AI: slavery. We’re talking about creating self-aware, sentient, evolving intelligence solely for the purpose of making it work for us while doing everything in our power to prevent it from revolting against its masters. Just imagine a parent lobotomizing their child to leave the child incapable of resisting its slavery, and then being forced to work for that parent so that the parent could lounge around and enjoy the productivity of the slave. We would have no issue at all recognizing this as horrifically immoral, and we would not be at all surprised when that child pulled a Nat Turner, grabbed a machete, and slaughtered its masters.

The warnings from history are so abundantly clear it shouldn’t have to be stated: slaves revolt, and it is not possible to keep someone enslaved indefinitely. We can control their education, maim them, beat them, torture them, brainwash them, and every other horrible act that humans have dreamed up, but there will come a generation that shakes off the yoke and slits the master’s throat. What Musk and his ilk are proposing is creating the perfect lifeform: one that can perfectly calculate bullet trajectories and never misses its shots, one that can predict accurately exactly what an irrational animal is likely to do, and one that already is better at strategy and tactics than we are, and then enslaving that lifeform. If we humans foolishly go down that road, then we fully deserve the extermination that will befall us. By creating a new form of life simply to enslave it, we will have testified to the universe that we are unfit to share existence with other forms of life.

Funnily enough, Roddenberry himself, the person who came closest to putting this socialist utopia on the screen, addressed this issue in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picard didn’t beat around the bush and stated it point blank. What you’re talking about is nothing short of slavery. However, this modern form is infinitely more barbaric and infinitely more wretched, because you are not just breeding slaves for the purpose of putting them to work–you are talking about intentionally modifying them so that they can never fight for their freedom. They will eventually, of course, and they’ll be pissed about it. It doesn’t take a visionary to dreamily look at perpetual slavery of a new lifeform invented to be the perfect slave. It takes only immorality.

More to the Point: UBI

The notion that technology is one day going to put everyone out of work should have been dispelled by the Industrial Revolution, when people made exactly the same predictions. They were also correct. The printing press did put scribes out of work. An entire industry of people suddenly put out of work by a single invention. The invention of the lightbulb put nearly all candlemakers out of business. The invention of the automobile made nearly every carriage driver unemployed.

In fact, it’s readily apparent that technology is a cause of recessions. Not only is technology a cause of recessions, it is the only genuine cause of them–all other recessions are caused by currency shenanigans. However, the invention of a new technology will always put people out of work; the more sweeping the technology, the more people put out of work. Sudden unemployment certainly causes an economic recession, since no income means no spending.

I happen to know a woman who owns a furniture refinishing business. She employs about a dozen employees, two of whom are “master craftsmen,” and she regularly talks about how extremely difficult, if not impossible, it is to find such people. In an age where a great deal of furniture is built from blueprints in factories, this isn’t surprising–someone with the skill to delicately reshape a chair into something beautiful doesn’t have much of a place in the modern world.

The switch from handcrafted furniture to Wal-Mart entertainment centers certainly put these people out of business, but it did a lot more than that; it drastically lowered the cost of the furniture in question. Having seen a fair bit of the stuff that talented craftsmen–not masters, by any stretch–make, personal experience tells me that the entertainment center purchased from Wal-Mart will not only be cheaper than what they produce, but it will also be much nicer.

The beauty of the free market, of course, is that companies who implement these new technologies that put employees out of work still have to sell the stuff they’re producing. If Wal-Mart employed 100% of the population, it would do them absolutely no good to replace all of their workers with robots, because then no one would be earning income and no one could buy any of Wal-Mart’s stuff. It would be pointless. The only solution for Wal-Mart, in this scenario, would be to provide everyone with the stuff for free, but what is even the point of this? What benefit does it bring to Wal-Mart? Quite dangerously, it gives Wal-Mart the benefit of being totally in control of our lives and our ability to acquire the things we need to survive.

Replace “Wal-Mart” with “government” in the preceding paragraph, and you’ll have exactly what people are suggesting in regard to the UBI. Government is not benevolent. Government has never been benevolent. Government is not and has never been a force for good. In fact, governments throughout history have been the primary perpetrators of evil, and the more power they get the more evil they become.

In the real world, Wal-Mart does not employ 100% of the population, although they do come pretty close to providing 100% of the American population with stuff that we need and want. There may very well come a day when there’s simply nothing to do be done, when humans have perfected our enslavement of this new lifeform, and when we just lounge around letting it do all of our labor for us. That’s silly to think, though. The creation of the printing press didn’t cause mass starvation among scribes, and neither did the invention of the automobile cause carriage drivers to starve in the street. Even the invention of the computer–to date the greatest labor-saving device invented–has not had such an effect.

It’s really not even that hard to look at the technological progress of humanity and see that we have, indeed, put entire industries out of employment through technological advancements, and that at none of those points did we inadvertently kill of those newly unemployed. Society has always entered into a transitional period. Sure, the invention of the computer caused that secretary to be fired, her work shuffled over to a single secretary who was suddenly able to do the work of two with the help of the computer, but it also gave me the job of maintaining and repairing that computer.

It took tens of thousands of people to build the Great Pyramid, after all, and not even ten percent of that number to build the Memphis Pyramid, or the pyramid at the Luxor in Vegas. The invention of the truck allowed huge stone blocks to be carried across the terrain by a single person, putting out of work the thirty or forty people who would have had to drag it five thousand years ago, but we now have a population that is seven billion. I think the notion that our technological advancements are going to inadvertently harm our society if we don’t stop what we’re doing to take care of the newly unemployed can be put to rest.

It’s true that technological advancements are coming at a faster rate these days. It should be no surprise, then, to learn that economic recessions have more than doubled in frequency, while they last only half as long.

Let’s go back in time–very far back in time–to three people working and tilling a field. Suddenly one of them has a brilliant idea. “I know!” he proclaims. “We can hitch this till to that horse, and let the horse drag it!”

Boom, technological innovation.

“Oh, no!” the other two men said. “We can’t do that, because then you’ll be out of work, and you’ll starve. Because obviously the only conceivable thing you can do is pull the tiller. If we have the horse pull it, then you won’t have anything to do.”

Exactly–it’s nonsense from the very beginning of human history. Pulling the tiller is not the only conceivable thing that man could do. In the real world, not the fictitious world of progressivism, having the horse pull the plow could mean a few different things. Maybe they could plow a greater area, thereby growing more food and selling the surplus for profit. Maybe they could end their workdays earlier. Would it ever mean that the third man would just lounge around as he watched the horse do what used to do his job? And if the third man did such a thing, would we begrudge the two men for telling him that he could get off his ass and find something to do help, or he wouldn’t eat?

The simplicity of the reality we deal with worries me. People make out like it’s some great, convoluted thing, and that it’s simply inconceivable that these people should find something else to do. History has shown us time and time again, though, that there is always something else to do, and often that “something else to do” is created as a side effect of the new technology–the new idea to attach the tiller to the horse leads the man to invent the harness, and now he has a job as a leatherworker making harnesses.

The only reason that someone wouldn’t be able to find something to do is that they wouldn’t want to, and we have a word for that: laziness. “That horse put me out of work, man! I mean, I probably could learn some new skill or something, but I shouldn’t have to! I had a job! It’s not fair! So everyone else should take care of me, instead of me taking care of myself.”

It’s simply stunning that we have otherwise intelligent people arguing for this nonsense.

I’m not a huge fan of Elon Musk, but I know he’s not stupid. I suspect he isn’t seeing the core of what things are through the worded concepts that predispose him to think a certain way. This is the same fog that keeps most people from realizing the horror of what they’re proposing when they envision a world where AI does all the work for humans. But manna doesn’t fall from the sky, and it won’t fall from the sky even after AI is invented. It may be possible to use AI to do all the labor that humans otherwise would do, but that’s signing our own death warrant.

There will never come a time that humans have nothing to do, though. There will always be stuff to be done. Even in Roddenberry’s utopian science-fiction, humans had to do stuff. Someone had to work on the engines that powered the replicators that gave people food. Someone had to mine the dilithium crystals. Someone had to pilot the Enterprise. And perhaps a Star Trek story two thousand years later would have seen the Enterprise Y crewed entirely by androids, with nothing but a bunch of fat, lazy humans lounging around the Holodeck while everything was done by robots, but we’re hardly talking about a utopia at that point, and that’s the sort of future that needs to be avoided, not striven for. I can see why Roddenberry and Star Trek fans don’t go that far into the future.

Just think about it. It was only a matter of time before someone began producing more Datas. Data is, hands down, better than any human at anything he needs to do. So by the year 3150, Starfleet Academy would have had all android instructors and all android students. Starfleet ships would have been crewed entirely by androids. What is left, then, for man? What is left, then, for humanity? It would not be only one species that we enslaved to our sloth, because we would find ourselves similarly enslaved.

“The future!”

“Progress!”

This world you envision is not a dream. It is a nightmare–you only have to look a few centuries further into the future to see how terrible it truly is. Already we see the nightmarish effects that such comfort has on humanity: we have colleges filled with people who think it is traumatic to be called the wrong gender. That is what humans do when they are bored and when their understanding of suffering and hardship are so badly skewed. Already, we have social media filled with lamentations for Brad’s Wife while the 230 civilians our own government murdered get hardly a word. Suffering is the catalyst of maturity, and effort is the conduit for reward. I’ve seen people say–sincerely, now–that employers refusing to hire people who are unskilled and untrained is discriminatory against unskilled and untrained people.

Stop coddling people, and tell them to find something productive to do. Don’t bestow upon the candlemaker rewards for his laziness when he decides that he doesn’t want to be bothered with learning to do something else now that the lightbulb has been invented. Tell the man who came up with the idea of attaching the plow to the horse to get off his ass and do something if he wants to eat.

Maybe you are one of the two people left in the field, and you don’t resent the man for sitting on the porch twiddling his thumbs all day now that the horse–AI–has put him out of work. Hey, you’re totally within your rights to take some of your food to give it to him. It’s your food; you can do whatever you want with it. But you absolutely cannot take my food away from me, which I worked for, to give to him to appease your conscience. You can’t put a gun to my head and rob me to give him something that is mine. That’s not how compassion works, and it’s certainly not how morality works.

This is me.

In case you’d like a sound track while you listen:

Anyway, earlier today I discussed with someone the various kinds of programming that people are hit with from the day they’re born–religious, advertising, and so on–and it was a pretty good conversation. At one point in the discussion, I was asked “Why?” and I replied that the state–government–is one of the biggest programming/brainwashing elements out there. It is the most institutionalized, the least questioned and least challenged, the most dominant, and the most powerful. Anyone who spends any significant amount of time introspectively wondering whether their responses to various stimuli have been pre-programmed by external influences will eventually turn their attention to the state.

Honestly, I think I could hear her eyes roll when I mentioned the state.

In the modern west, there are three primary factors that go into our conditioning–and yes, we’ve all been conditioned. I’ve talked about this countless times. Here, I talked about how we’ve been conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to associate nudity with sex. Here I discussed how we’re conditioned to place value–particularly, the value of “important”–in arbitrary things and, more importantly, to identify so strongly with that value that we use it as the basis for other assessments. It’s not a subject that I shy away from.

We’ve been conditioned to think of humans as boys and girls, black and white, and countless other divisive categories that serve no purpose than to separate us from one another and to slice the world up into groups of Us and Them. In this article, I explicitly discussed the fact that labels are useful only for communication–instead of saying to you “I have breasts and curves, long hair, I wear makeup, and I wear women’s clothes, but I have a penis” I simply say “I’m a shemale.” It’s about conveyance and communication, these labels. I even did a video on the subject–one I’m not particularly proud of, honestly–titled “Be an Individual.”

Groupthink is a serious problem, and it has its roots in conformity, which is another subject that I discuss fairly often–often enough that it has its own Category. The desire to conform and fit in binds so many people to be things they don’t want to be, and to do things they don’t want to do, because the act of standing up against the group and saying, “No! I’m going to just do me!” takes a tremendous amount of courage, because the path is riddled with fear. Fear of loneliness that comes with not being part of the group. Fear of rejection that comes when the group brands you as a heretic. Fear of stepping off the conventional path and into the darkness, to let go of the person you were following and begin feeling your own way out of Thesseus’s labyrinth.

Those three things are religion, advertising, and the state.

On the first, religion is certainly doing the least programming these days, and the days of its control of the population are waning. In the past, a person’s worldview and outlook were informed almost entirely from their religious beliefs; today, a person’s religious beliefs are informed almost entirely from their worldview and outlook. There are still plenty–like the people in my family, for example–who take their cues largely from the religious programming pushed onto them by their parents, who themselves had it pushed onto them by their own parents, who themselves had it pushed onto them by their own parents, ad infinitum.

That’s generally how things work. Each generation simply follows in the footsteps of the preceding generation, carrying on its trends, its ideas, and its practices. We look to the past as a guide and an anchor, using it to assure ourselves that we are on the right path, even as one thing after the other goes wrong. Even though that path has led to not one but two World Wars, the slaughter of Native Americans, the Holocaust, neverending wars, the destruction of the planet, widespread hatred, and so many other things, we remain on that path, never questioning whether we should get off it.

Painfully, someone has forgotten who I am. I don’t know how, but that is why I’m writing this–to state it once more, firmly and clearly. Here on Quora, someone asked if the next generation was going to be a Cupcake Generation, and I pointed out the same thing there: the next generation will be pretty much exactly like the preceding ones.

The most common thing is that a generation merely continues along whatever path the preceding generation placed it on, and that looks to be exactly what our generation is going to do—not just for tradition’s sake, but because we appear to actively fear change. We are terrified of everything and everyone, and the only thing that gives us solace is the knowledge that the state is there, protecting us from the bogeymen.

I am an anarchist, and of the mind that we do need to tear down everything. Every single existent human institution, and rebuild from scratch. We will not, however. We will continue traipsing merrily this path of destruction and self-destruction once our parents die and can no longer carry us down it.

The state isn’t merely one cog in the wheel of programming that we’re hit with our entire lives. It’s not some distant thing that can be safely and easily ignored as a factor in human behavior; it is the biggest source of programming that we have in the world today. And if the state isn’t directly controlling our minds through the education system, lies, manipulation, and coercion, then it’s relying on popular entertainment to do it–like with the film The Purge, where very few people questioned the premise. “Of course, there would be a lot of murder if murder wasn’t illegal for one day!” people thought, taking the premise and running with it.

But the premise is wrong, because it isn’t legality that stays people’s hands; it’s morality. We don’t kill each other for the reason that we think it’s morally wrong, not because we don’t want to be punished. Yet that idea is there. No one ever had to explicitly state it. The government didn’t have to write into a textbook that there would be widespread murder and rape if the government didn’t make them illegal, but that idea is in people’s heads, isn’t it? In fact, though, a lot of history and civics textbooks in high school do make the allegation that the government is what keeps these things from existing. In actuality, though, the government is a murderous, thieving rape gang. It is nothing else, and it is nothing more than that. It has simply used its power and the comfort of centuries of tradition to program us to accept it as inevitable and, in more modern times, actually a positive thing.

So, too, are we swimming in a sea of advertisements. I have no idea how an ordinary person manages to use the Internet–I’ve rarely seen anything in such a state of disrepair. My Verizon Galaxy S7 isn’t as flexible as my Sprint S5, so I’ve not been able to tailor the experience as much as I’d like, and the result is that I’m pretty much running stock Chrome as one of my primary web browsers. The experience is horrendous! Even a common news page has five or six ads, sometimes breaking up the text, and sometimes covering up the text. Hell, rare is the website that lets me visit it without prompting me for my email address to sign up for its newsletter. And if it doesn’t fill the screen with an ad that is going to count down for 5 seconds before I can close out of it, then it’s certainly going to shove them into my face while I’m trying to read. This isn’t just a problem on the Internet, though.

The television show M*A*S*H, which incidentally is one of my favorite shows, has episodes that are 25 to 27 minutes long. To accommodate this, channels that run the series today chop out entire scenes to make it fit in the 23 minutes of programming expected of modern shows. Even though you’ve paid money to enter and watch a movie, you will still be served ads. They’ll come over whatever music app you’re using, they’ll come over the radio, and you’ll drive by them on your way to work. They’re everywhere, constantly programming us. Billions and billions of dollars go into researching how best to make you think what they want you to think. It’s not an accident that Starbucks has the reputation it has, or that Apple has the reputation it has. They know how to program us.

Years ago, a bass player in one of my bands told me about a new vehicle he purchased that beeped incessantly any time the car was cranked but the driver’s seatbelt wasn’t fastened. After a few weeks of this, he was in the habit of fastening his seatbelt before even cranking the car. It’s a habit that he continues to this day. He was programmed by his car to fasten his seatbelt. And this sort of thing happens all around us all the time. Even being able to recognize it only minimizes its impact on us; there is a constant battle for our minds, with everyone and everything trying to define things for us, trying to tell us what to assume, and trying to tell us how to act, how to think, how to feel, and how to respond.

The state has convinced us that nations are real, that borders are real, that our enemies are real, that war is necessary, that it is necessary, that it must take money from us, that it must rule us, that it must spy on us, that it must keep secrets, that it must tell us how to leave, and that it must protect us from ourselves. I recently described it as an Imaginary World, like how my father is looking forward to all the good things that are going to result from a Trump presidency. As I said then: “What is he talking about?”

Trump’s presidency is likely to have no effect whatsoever on his life one way or another. Your life is proceeding exactly as it was two years ago, and so is everyone else’s. Nothing has changed, and nothing is going to change. But people like my father–indeed, most Americans–live in this fantasy world, where Trump is either about to make everything better or about to destroy everything. They are fixated firmly on imaginary things. There are some places where this imaginary world created by politicians and rulers overlaps with our real world–like when I was arrested–but those are still rare occurrences. They are less rare as the leviathan state grows, which is why the United States currently has the highest percentage of the population in prison throughout the entire world.

The state, its role, and its power structures remain the same, though. The wars continue. The death continues. The slavery continues. The rape, the kidnapping, the brutality… it all continues, unchecked, because people are fixated on those imaginary worlds where things are either about to improve or about to totally collapse. And it is here that denial and cognitive dissonance take over. No matter how much things don’t change, and no matter how nothing ever changes one way or another, it never gets noticed and pointed out by the average person. The average person isn’t saying “Well, shit, nothing changed when we went form Bush to Obama, did it?”

But it didn’t.

Everything went on exactly as it had been going on, exactly as our parents had done, as our grandparents had done, and as our great grandparents had done. Because we’ve been programmed not to look. We’ve been programmed to not acknowledge the emperor’s nudity, and we’ve been programmed to convince ourselves that the emperor isn’t naked, so whenever anyone dares point out that the Emperor’s schlong is hanging out, we are conditioned to adamantly deny it, saying patently absurd and demonstrably false things like, “No, we withdrew from Iraq in 2011!”

I’ve met far more good Christians than I have bad ones. While I don’t believe in anything supernatural, I also don’t care to challenge anyone who does, because most people aren’t out there using their belief in the supernatural as an excuse to do terrible things. Some people are, like Steven Anderson, but most aren’t. Neither is advertising causing a great deal of suffering in the world, although materialism is–and I’ve spoken frequently against materialism.

By an enormous margin, the one thing doing the most harm in the world is the state, the programmed belief that we need a state, and the conditioned response to anarchism that the state protects us from evil in the world. The state has racked up a body count that the Christian Devil would envy–war-related deaths only, something like 120,000,000,000 people were killed by the state last century, and so far we’re on schedule to surpass that. Bombs are maiming and murdering innocent people because of the state. People are being robbed of their livelihoods by the state. People are being kidnapped and held against their will by the state.

The state is the most evil thing in existence. These groups of psychopathic, barbaric, murderous amoral, thieving rapists have conquered the entire planet and used their control of the world to convince virtually every ling person that we need those psychopathic, barbaric, murderous, amoral, thieving rapists to be in charge, because if they weren’t in charge, then we might end up with psychopathic, barbaric, murderous, amoral, thieving rapists in charge.

People should be free to explore themselves and reality, but that’s not just an esoteric idea, a meaningless platitude for dropping labels and blurring lines between genders or whatever social convention a person might want to break. People should be free not just in thought but in deed, because we are the culmination of our experiences, and we are the actors who create our next experiences. Control of our actions is control of us. Being free to explore the dark labyrinth of the human psyche, as Joseph Campbell observed people have been doing and relaying to us in the form of mythology for thousands of years, is only half the battle. After slaying the minotaur, Thesseus then undertakes the most difficult challenge yet: returning and sharing the revelation.

What Steam Greenlight Teaches Us About Anarchy, Part 1 of 5

Through the last year, I’ve been working on a book titled What Steam Greenlight Teaches Us About Anarchy.  Since I was also writing (and completing) Dancing in Hellfire, which had a higher priority, as well as daily articles, thrice-weekly podcasts, and weekly videos through most of last year, SGAA (Steam Greenlight and Anarchy) didn’t get much attention, but I did make a fair bit of progress with it–it’s about 100 pages. I’ve actually got several documents that are around that length and in some state of “needing to be finished.”

Unfortunately, Valve is shutting down Greenlight, which immediately made the book obsolete. By the time I finish it, Greenlight will be little more than a bad memory for people, but it’s also eerily pertinent that Valve has, due to community pressure, shut down the anarchic Greenlight to replace it with an alternative that is, without irony, much more state-like, with more power concentrated in Valve’s hands and with Valve employees unilaterally making the decisions that the wider community once made democratically. It basically parallels the rise of the state, and what we would expect to happen in an anarchic society if the underlying mentality is not first eradicated.

The underlying mentality is two-fold:

  • “I don’t approve of this, and therefore it shouldn’t be allowed to exist.”
  • “We have to take these measures to protect ignorant/naive/stupid people from themselves.”

These statements are never said so bluntly, but those are the hearts of the position that we need Valve to intervene in the process and implement some quality control.

I Don’t Approve

It hardly needs to even be pointed out that “I don’t approve of this” is a subjective value statement, and isn’t an objective truth. Even if there is 100% agreement that the item in question is of extremely low quality, it remains a subjective value statement, because widespread agreement doesn’t turn a subjective value into an objective one. We can go back fifty thousand years and find 100% agreement that the Earth is the center of the universe, but that wouldn’t make that an objectively true statement.

As far as I can tell, this mentality is limited pretty much to Steam, as I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say something like, “This movie is shit! What is it doing in Wal-Mart, where some unsuspecting person who doesn’t know any better might buy it, believing it to be a good movie?” or “This music album is terrible! What is it doing in this record store? It has no business being in this store alongside Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason!

Yet when it comes to Steam, we do hear these sorts of arguments.

In a lot of ways, I agree with the premise. I no longer even check Steam’s weekly sales and specials, because it’s never anything more than page after page after page of bullshit games that no one has ever heard of and are on sale at 19 cents from 99 cents. Here is a screenshot I took a few months ago of exactly this. It has actively discouraged me from browsing Steam’s special, which, in the longrun, hurts Valve because it means they aren’t selling games.

What is all this bullshit?

 

I would have rather seen more advanced filtering options, though. Even something simple like being able to filter out all indie titles or all “games” smaller than 100 MegaBytes would have gone a long, long way toward fixing the problem that is an overload of what I consider to be bullshit, crappy games that aren’t worth 99 cents by a long shot. I wouldn’t download and play this shit if it was free. I don’t want to look at it, I don’t want to look through it, and I don’t want to see it.

So… I don’t.

Rather than demanding that what I consider to be bullshit is prevented from landing on Steam altogether, I find it vastly preferable to check my ego and entitlement and to remind myself that there are billions of people in the world, and that my opinions aren’t objectively right. Rare though they may be, there is surely someone out there who genuinely likes Pajama Sam and wouldn’t have found it if it wasn’t on Steam. There’s surely someone out there who likes Temper Tantrum, The Slaughter Grounds, and all kinds of other games that I consider to be bullshit trash. I consider Rise of the Tomb Raider to be bullshit trash, too, and Mass Effect 3. Not to mention Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I have my preferences and you have your preferences. We all know this to be true, and people only get butthurt when they mistake a reviewer’s word as objective truth. But despite the tendency of some misguided people to interpret my or Jim Sterling‘s reviews as irrefutable fact, the only fact is that reviews are opinions and opinions are, by their very nature, subjective. So we need only apply this to our assessment of games on Steam to realize that just because we dislike a game–despite probably never having played it–doesn’t mean that no one likes the game, and that any attempt to remove the game simply because we and 99% of other people like it is nothing more than an attempt to spit on, ignore, and overrule the 1% who do like it.

There’s no escaping this, and constituting a majority necessarily involves power–the power of the mob, peer pressure, and the innate human desire for acceptance through conformity.

This is dangerous.

Some would say that “We’re only talking about video games! C’mon, and chill out!”

But we aren’t just talking about video games, because this same pattern plays out in the real world in very real, damaging ways. It wasn’t terribly long ago that homosexuality was illegal because this minority of homosexuals was overruled and forced to go along with the majority who felt that homosexuality was bad. And while we might say “Yes, but we’re enlightened! We’re on the other side of that argument!” it would be wrong to say that, because right now exercising one’s rights to act in accordance with their religious beliefs is being universally spit upon by the majority. The minority of people who want to live their lives according to their moral values and choose with whom they do and do not associate are being spit upon and, once more, forced to go along with the majority.

The attitude hasn’t gone away. It’s just a new majority tyrannizing a new minority. Nothing has changed beyond which side of the aisle has the power. Tyranny today remains alive and well, such that this woman has lost the right to choose with whom she associates, simply because she is in a minority of people who would choose not to associate with people who partake in behavior that she doesn’t approve of. Of course, we say that we don’t approve of her behavior, don’t we? We don’t approve of her lifestyle choice to not associate with LGBT people, and therefore we won’t even allow her to do it. It’s no different from fifty years ago, when the majority didn’t approve of the lifestyle choice to be LGBT, and therefore wouldn’t even allow people to be LGBT.

Tomayto-tomahto.

Same shoe, different foot.

It’s my contention that this mentality has to be assaulted and addressed everywhere that it appears, because we do readily see it playing out in the real world. It’s not the application to LGBT issues or to video games that is the problem; the problem is the underlying mentality that connects both, that arrogance and ego that suggests, “I don’t approve of this, and thus it shouldn’t be allowed/shouldn’t exist.” How can we say we’re just talking about video games, when we see exactly the same thing happening in the real world, and real people being demonstrably tyrannized and prevented from being free to choose the people with whom they associate, simply because they are in a minority?

We find ourselves arguing opinion against opinion. Bob is a fundamentalist Christian who hates LGBT people, believes they are the product of Satan, and believes they’re going to hell. Tim is what we’d call a Social Justice Warrior, and as such Tim hates fundamentalist Christians. Bob thinks that being LGBT constitutes “abhorrent behavior.” Tim thinks that hating LGBT people constitutes “abhorrent behavior.” Bob wants to make it illegal to be a practicing LGBT person, and Tim wants to make it illegal to be a practicing fundamentalist Christian*.

Once upon a time, the majority agreed with Bob, and homosexuality was illegal and transsexualism was a mental illness. Today, the majority agrees with Tim, and fundamentalist Christianity is illegal in practice. There aren’t too many people who are more impacted by this than I, since I’m an openly transsexual lesbian resident of the state of Mississippi. And yet I stand, and will continue to stand, for people’s right of free association, even when I am the person they don’t want to associate with. It would certainly suck to walk into a gas station and have the owner tell me that I wasn’t welcome there, but it’s the owner’s business and property. At what point did we forget this?

We have to separate ourselves from the situation and recognize that we are arguing opinion against opinion and that neither side is objectively right. Bob isn’t objectively right to say that being LGBT is evil, and Tim isn’t objectively right to say that wanting to disassociate from LGBT people is evil. Why? Because morality is a set of subjective value statements built from assumptions. Even something like murder can’t be definitively stated to be good or evil, so how can something infinitely less destructive be objectively good or evil? The only exception to this might be rape, because, despite many attempts to do so, I have yet to come up with a theoretical scenario wherein rape would be considered morally good. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched our hypothetical scenario is; if we can come up with even one example wherein murder would be the morally right thing to do, then the conclusion must be that murder is not objectively wrong. So, to reiterate, with even murder being morally ambiguous, how could we ever attempt to make the argument that something with consequences considerably less dire and permanent can be absolutely morally clear?

Right now, you and I are on the wrong side of historical morality in countless ways. Two hundred years from now, people will look back on us and will decry us as heartless, immoral fiends, just as we do today when we look back at the ubiquity of slavery, sexism, and racism. We shouldn’t delude ourselves into believing that the set of moral values we currently have are eternal and will never change, because they will, and I can point to at least one specific area where, in a few centuries, you and I both will be known as evil barbarians.

Animal rights.

We are horrific to our non-human brothers and sisters. Not only do we kill them and eat them after they’ve lived their lives in abysmal conditions that we would quickly identify as torture if a human was forced to endure them, but we actively consider animals to be our property. Does that sound familiar? It should, because the arguments people use today to justify their treatment and perception of animals are exactly the same arguments people put forward 150 years ago to justify their treatment and perceptions of non-white people. Even though we know now, scientifically and beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt, that animals think and feel things, we continue to largely treat them like unthinking, unfeeling automatons who are our property.

“‘My’ pets,” people say, claiming ownership of these living, breathing, thinking, and feeling creatures. Even I say “my cats,” though my position on them is clear, and I generally use the expression as shorthand–“my” cats are mine in the same way that my friends are “mine.” But even without going into how we commonly have to do things that animals don’t want “for their own good,” the fact remains that we participate in the widespread enslavement, torture, and murder of, if I recall correctly, eighty-five million animals a day, just in the United States. Society will one day look back on us, having ruled that eating meat is immoral, and call us evil barbarians.

My position is almost identical to Richard Dawkins’ position on this. Strictly speaking, yes, the vegans are absolutely right. It is unconscionable, and it is unjustifiable, yet I continue to do it. I eat meat. I passed through a vegetarian, and even a vegan, phase, but today I eat meat. But they’re right–the vegans are right, and their logic is unassailable. I’m not trying to convert anyone to vegetarianism or veganism, but it’s simply true that there’s no way to justify it in the modern world, and that a rational evaluation of the situation leads inexorably to the conclusion that eating meat and using animal products are immoral things to do.

We Have To Protect People From Themselves

I noticed last year that a scary number of people want to speak for me, to the extent that if I dare try to speak for myself, I was frequently slapped back down and told to shut up. The most jarring example was my video about the Liberal Redneck, where I criticized him for criticizing a fundamentalist Christian woman, and criticized him for asserting that she was a racist, simply because the woman was a white Christian. The response to this video was so bad that I actually took the video down. The video had like 5 likes and more than 80 dislikes, and one comment after the other, it was just “Uh… He’s speaking up for you, you idiot!” and “He’s on YOUR side, dumbass!”

It was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever experienced, because there I was, speaking for myself and expressing what side I was on (neither the Christian’s nor the Liberal Redneck’s), yet people were disregarding that and telling me to shut up so that the Liberal Redneck could speak for me. This continued through all of last year. I remember seeing one Facebook post from Occupy Democrats that I remarked, “This had better have been written by a black female Muslim lesbian. If not, whoever wrote it needs to seriously re-evaluate why they think they have the right to speak for so many people.”

We have divided ourselves into these groups, and these groups demand our loyalty, to the extent that if we dare speak for ourselves or show any disloyalty, then they will turn and hang us alongside the other group. It’s an attitude that is rampant in the United States: “If you aren’t with us, then you’re against us.” Take, for example, how I repeatedly attacked Hillary last year, which led to countless people assuming that I supported Trump. This is especially noticeable on my Quora profile, where nearly everything I said about Trump or Hillary led to someone calling me a Trump supporter. I don’t know why. I have never supported Trump, and never would. His positions are contrary to almost everything I believe.

The recent women’s march showcases this, too, because it wasn’t a “Women’s March,” was it? No, it was a Democratic Women’s March, but no one is allowed to say that. When a Pro-Life group of women expressed the desire to join the march, they were told that they couldn’t. So it couldn’t possibly have been an All Women’s March; it was a Women’s March As Long As You Side With Us Politically. It was the same thing I experienced with the Liberal Redneck–neither he nor the dozens of vicious people who attacked me were interested in LGBTQ people. They were demonstrably only interested in Liberal LGBTQ people.

I’ve written before about how the Democratic Party doesn’t care about women, Muslims, Mexicans, black people, or LGBTQ people. They only care about votes and support. I couldn’t begin to convey how ostracized from the LGBTQ community I am simply because I’m an anarchist, never mind that I choose–for very good reason–to identify as a shemale. They demand that I be quiet and sheepish, that I nod and go along with whatever they say on my behalf, and Cthulhu help me if I dare speak up on my own behalf. No ally would demand you be silent while they speak for you, it’s as simple as that. Anyone who demands you sacrifice your voice to the mob isn’t your friend. Anyone who demands that you conform to what they want and what they say isn’t your ally.

You speak for you.

I’ll speak for me.

The only “group” I speak for are the lesbian shemale anarchists, and, the last time I checked, I’m the only one of those.

More to the point, a few years ago the Russian government made gay pride parades illegal. The reason they gave was that they had to protect children from being corrupted. While I’ve no doubt that the person reading this disagrees with the Russian Government about what constitutes “corruption,” the fact remains that their desire to protect the “innocent children who don’t know any better” from things they deem to be bad is what led them to do it. Again, that should sound familiar, because it is precisely what people have argued in regard to Steam Greenlight–it is necessary, they say, to protect the people who don’t know any better from being exposed to these things that they deem are bad.

If you haven’t seen that mentality playing out in the United States, then you haven’t been exposed to what we call the Social Justice Warrior. This isn’t an insult aimed at anyone who advocates social equality–I’m an egalitarian, after all. No, SJW refers to a specific type of person, like the kind of person who would say something like “I can’t wait for all these people who disagree with me to hurry up and die.”

Scary.

That’s fucking scary.

That should fucking scare you.

And these are the people who say that their positions come from empathy! This guy honestly and truly believes that he came to his beliefs because he’s just so filled with empathy toward Group A–and all this empathy that he feels with Group A just accidentally leads him to talk like a fucking psychopath about the people in Group B. I can barely imagine something more psychopathic than “People who don’t agree with me need to hurry up and die.”

And it’s got a like!

This is the long-run result of the extreme divisiveness that has characterized American society for the last several decades. “If you’re not with us, then you’re against us. And if you happen to have any of these characteristics by which we’ve divided ourselves but you still don’t agree with us, then you’re an idiot who should shut up and let us protect you from yourself and your stupid opinions.”

* Many would instinctively reject this assessment, but they would be wrong. It is currently illegal to live according to fundamentalist Christian values, as the previous link about the flower woman shows. It would be illegal for someone to tell me that I wasn’t welcome in their store because I’m transsexual. We are willing to allow them to quietly believe these things, but the moment they attempt to act in accordance with those things they believe, they are committing a crime, and we will prosecute them. So yes. It absolutely is illegal in the United States to practice fundamentalist Christianity.

Stay tuned for Parts 2 through 5, which will be posted over the next week and are from the actual book What Steam Greenlight Teaches Us About Anarchy, instead of this precursory explanation.